(Trends Wide) — All students who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and who attend public schools in the Los Angeles Unified District, the nation’s second-largest school district, must be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the end the calendar year, as voted by the school board.
At a special meeting Thursday, the Los Angeles Unified School Board decided that a mandate in response to the sudden surge in the virus caused by the delta variant was appropriate, based on data showing lower infection and hospitalization rates among those vaccinated.
The proposal approved Thursday requires that all eligible students 12 years of age and older must receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine no later than November 21 and their second dose no later than December 19.
Students participating in face-to-face extracurricular activities, including sports, face an earlier deadline, October 3, to receive a first dose of the vaccine and a second dose no later than October 31.
The district, which serves more than 600,000 students and already mandates vaccinations for teachers and staff, requires everyone to wear masks and tests all students and staff for infections weekly. Classrooms are equipped with improved ventilation systems in an effort to decrease the spread of the virus.
District spokeswoman Shannon Haber could not give an exact figure for how many students will be affected by Thursday’s decision, but noted that many students were already vaccinated. Covid-19 vaccines are provided free of charge to all eligible Californians, and mobile vaccination clinics are visiting every middle and high school in the district.
The mandate will apply to all vaccine-eligible students who go to school in person and will allow those with “conditional and approved exemptions” to opt out, although the board did not specify the conditions.
Students who decline the vaccine and do not have exemptions will be able to participate in the Independent Study Program (ISP). Currently, about 15,000 students are enrolled in the ISP, according to Tanya Ortiz Franklin, a member of the Board.